Continuing our conversation about how to free ourselves from the unhealthy thinking habits we’ve cultivated for years, today’s post is about how to stop “living in the wreckage of the future.” This is a phrase one of my clients taught me from AA which is intended to help folks in recovery not “catastrophize” about what tomorrow will bring and live “one day at a time.” In truth, none of us knows what’s ahead but we like to believe we do to experience a sense of control and predictability about life.
Mark Twain said, “Most of my life’s worst experiences never actually happened.” This quote is about how many of our worst expectations and fears don’t materialize although we think about them so much that we frighten and worry ourselves as if they had. Recall the last time you were convinced something bad would happen and it didn’t. How did you feel? Was there a sense of relief or not? Often we’ve built up so much anticipatory anxiety, it still takes days to calm down.
- A new day
Since August is often stressful as kids return to school and we leave summer behind, opportunity for “living in the wreckage of the future” looms large. So, tell your “catastrophizing self” I appreciate your concern but what I really need is for you to shut up. While this isn’t easy, with practice it improves and we can rest in the awareness that the present moment is usually okay.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When asked to refrain from teaching this, he chose to end his life by drinking hemlock. For the last few weeks, this phrase keeps coming up in conversation which prompted me to write about it.
How does examining one’s life relate to self-care? Because part of self-care is learning to listen to our “inner voice” and become clear about who we are and what is truly nourishing. Not in a self-centered way but a self-respectful one. However, in today’s frenetic, “need to do one more thing” culture, we often don’t slow down and get quiet enough to hear what our “inner voice” is saying.
Likewise, it’s easier (and less painful) to lose ourselves in what we’re doing and what needs to be done than reflect on who we are and what we may need to change to create our best life. For example, someone who is in an unhappy marriage may focus their attention and energy on their children to protect them from knowing how miserable they are. Or a woman who has a demanding parent may exhaust herself trying to appease them rather than look at her own co-dependent need to be needed.
When we choose self-care, we send a message to ourselves that we are important and that our health-body, mind, heart and soul, is a priority. We quiet the noise of other voices and instead attend to own. Dangerous yes, but totally worthwhile!
What do you think???